NASCAR Cup Series

Denny Hamlin wins home race at Richmond

3 Mins read
Credit: Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin‘s hometown of Chesterfield, Virginia is approximately twenty miles away from Richmond Raceway, making it his NASCAR Cup Series home circuit. A little pit strategy earned him his fifth career win at the track as his fresher tyres allowed him to pass William Byron with five laps remaining and pull away for his first win of 2022.

Hamlin started thirteenth while Ryan Blaney was on the pole. The former’s 23XI Racing ally Kurt Busch was responsible for the first caution when his fuel pressure died ten laps in. Blaney would led every lap of the opening stage to win ahead of Byron, Ross Chastain, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick.

While Stage #2 was incident-free, pit stops dominated the segment as each team tested out various methods to maximise their track time on each setup. Hamlin and Toyota’s alternative strategy allowed Joe Gibbs Racing team-mates Bell and Truex to lead laps, as did Blaney’s Team Penske compatriot Logano. Bell led much of the stage before being passed by Truex for the eventual stage victory. Chastain, Logano, Blaney, Elliott, Harvick, Busch, Kyle Larson, and Keselowski followed.

Six laps into the third stage, Cody Ware hit Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after he was turned by Erik Jones, prompting Ware to tweet about “[n]o respect (being) given back to me when I try to give it to everyone.” Another wreck came five laps following the ensuing restart when Ty Dillon and Cole Custer made contact and Austin Cindric was caught in the crossfire.

The race resumed on lap 264 with Byron leading. Like in the previous segment, pit stops were a critical factor as Hamlin elected to pit twice in Stage #3, while others like Byron opted to do one. Although Byron led much of the final stage, it slowly grew clear that Hamlin and his newer tyres had the advantage as he chased him down. Hamlin caught the leader and passed him with five laps remaining.

Although Harvick—who also made two stops—tried to follow, he was unable to close the gap enough as Hamlin secured his fifth win at Richmond and first since 2016. He is also the first Toyota driver to win a 2022 Cup race, while Ty Gibbs‘ victory in the previous day’s Xfinity Series event gave JGR a weekend sweep.

“You just have a tough season and things aren’t going well,” said Hamlin. “It seems like everything is not going your way and the law of averages say things are going to work out and we’ll get our performance better, and today’s the day where it all matched up.

“I just rely on the crew chief (Chris Gabehart) and his information to me says we are going to be racing this guy and this guy. As long as you run this pace and do everything you can in traffic, you’ve got a great shot to win. I don’t pay attention to where we were or anything. He told me where the leaders were. I just drove the car as smooth as I could.

“I love this track and the techniques that it takes to get around here. I watched some of the greatest short track racers in the world at Southside Speedway and Langley. I’ve learned so much from those guys watching from the stands. When I finally got the opportunity to apply it for myself, I did.”

Race results

11311Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
274Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord400Running
3224William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet400Running
4619Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
5215Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet400Running
6920Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
7112Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord400Running
82848Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet400Running
9318Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
10253Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet400Running
11414Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord400Running
12168Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet400Running
13196Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord400Running
14159Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet400Running
151817Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord400Running
161499Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet400Running
171122Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord399Running
181721Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord399Running
1981Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet399Running
20202Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord399Running
211010Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord398Running
221241Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord398Running
23543Erik JonesPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet398Running
243042Ty DillonPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet398Running
252238Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord397Running
262923Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota397Running
272616A.J. Allmendinger*Kaulig RacingChevrolet396Running
283247Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet396Running
293631Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet396Running
302434Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord395Running
31317Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet392Running
322377Landon Cassill*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet390Running
333515J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware RacingFord390Running
343478B.J. McLeodLive Fast MotorsportsFord386Running
352745Kurt Busch23XI RacingToyota291Running
363351Cody WareRick Ware RacingFord241Accident
373744Greg BiffleNY Racing TeamChevrolet96Suspension
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points
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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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